Concerns Raise Over Pedestrian Safety on US-41 Twin Bridges

Though it's certainly a risk, it's perfectly legal for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Henderson's Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges.

Posted: Jul 21, 2021 12:00 AM
Updated: Jul 21, 2021 4:19 PM

When a semi-truck driver saw a man crossing one of Henderson's twin bridges on foot, he found it so dangerous, he called 911.

"You have a black male walking on the northbound bridge going up right now," the driver said in the call Henderson Dispatch shared with 44News. "I've got another semi beside me, there's no room for a person to stand beside it."

"You have a black male walking on the northbound bridge going up right now. I've got another semi beside me, there's no room for a person to stand beside it." - 911 Caller

"It's legal to walk across the bridge." -- Henderson Dispatch

But, it was the dispatcher's response that surprised him more than the man walking.

"It's legal to walk across the bridge," the dispatcher said.

That's right. Though it's certainly a risk, it's perfectly legal for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Henderson's Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges.

While it may be rare, the driver who called 911 was not the only one to see a walker brave the bridge.

"I've seen them on a few occasions," Josh Givens said. "In the last year, maybe two or three."

Givens lives in Newburgh, Indiana, but he crosses the Ohio River frequently to see family in Kentucky.

When he sees people walking across the bridge, he also worries for their safety, but he's not entirely surprised to see them.

"That's the only method they have to get across the river," he said. "I can't blame them for trying to risk it."

Givens is right. The twin bridges are the only Bi-State connector for pedestrians.

44News reached out to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet about any safety concerns and District 2's spokesperson Keirsten Jaggers replied in an email that while they would rather not have pedestrians walking across the bridges, they do not have a way to restrict it.

And there are currently no plans to add any walkways or bike lanes.

"As far as the need or whether it being a good idea or not, I really can't speak on that but I would say we will always listen to any kind of enhancement for safety," said Jason Tiller, communications director for INDOT Southwest.

Tiller said though the twin bridges are owned by Kentucky, they also lie within his Vincennes district, so if there were any talks of future pedestrian crossing projects, INDOT would play a role.

The I-69 Ohio River Crossing project is still in the early stages, but if it moves forward current plans propose closing the southbound US-41 bridge, which would direct all traffic to just two lanes on the northbound bridge.

Mindy Peterson with the project's public outreach said prior to the I-69 Crossing's completion slated for 2031, a group could, in theory, reach an agreement with INDOT and KYTC and repurpose the southbound bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists.

But until any formal plan is introduced, anyone looking to cross on foot will have to continue taking the risk.

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